For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)





d. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

Thanks to COVID-related issues, a few Disney resorts are closed.

Among the Value resorts, as of October 2021

Among the Moderate resorts, as of October 2021

All of the Deluxe resorts and the Disney Vacation Club resorts are open.

OVERVIEW: WHERE TO STAY AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Where to Stay at Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netStay in Disney’s Polynesian Resort  if you can afford it, or in a standard room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort if you are on a tight budget.

If neither of these works for you, see Next Best Resort Choices.

STAY AT A WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

You should stay at an official Walt Disney World resort hotel, as doing so gives you special privileges that your itinerary takes advantage of.

  • Being able to book a few key paid components of Disney World’s new set of replacements for its former FastPass+ program earlier in the day than almost anyone else, helping you get low wait access to the most popular rides.
  • Access to free extra time in every park every morning that most other guests can’t use via Disney World’s new Early Theme Park Entry program, which replaces its old Extra Magic Hours offering. (Those staying in the most expensive Disney hotels also get extra evening access.)
  • Reliable park transportation with proper hours.
  • Earlier access to the most popular dining reservations.
  • Access to the Disney Dining Plan which can save some families a bit, and lets others control their budgets. (The Dining Plan is not yet back in place post COVID)
  • Free parking at the theme parks, and no resort fees. (Note that for most reservations parking is no longer free at the hotels themselves.)
  • Fun theming and good convenience

CRITERIA FOR PICKING AMONG DISNEY RESORTS

This site selects from among the 25 or so  possible Walt Disney World resort hotels based on two criteria:

  1. Appeal to kids (for obvious reasons) and
  2. Transportation convenience, because of all the trips you will be making back and forth from your resort to the various parks, attractions and shows.

KID APPEAL

Lobby Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.netKid appeal is principally visual, and it means whether the look of a resort has features that speak to kids of whimsy, playfulness, and adventure, signaling that that this resort was designed for them! (And not necessarily for their parents…)

The resorts with kid appeal are, in order

  1. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  2. (Near-tie with #1) Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  3. Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  4. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  5. (Near tied)  Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s All-Star MoviesAll-Star Sports,  and All Star Music  Resorts.

None of the other resorts has enduring, whimsical kid appeal. See this for more on kid appeal.

CONVENIENCE

Monorail From Polynesian from yourfirstvisit.netThese resorts noted above with kid appeal break into two categories.

  • The first 3 are classified by Walt Disney World as “Deluxe” resorts, and
  • The rest are classified by Disney as “Value” resorts

(See this for details on what you get in each resort category.)

Because the price difference between these categories is so high, separate hotels are recommended within each of the two categories. (Other categories exist, but are not recommended for first-time visitors–see Where Not to Stay for why.)

Within the kid-appealing Walt Disney World resorts, the tie breaker is transportation convenience, particularly to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks, as you will be making more trips to these parks than any others.

Of the three kid-appealing deluxe resorts, the Polynesian is far and away the most convenient.

  • It is one of only three resorts served by the resort monorail that directly connects to the Magic Kingdom, and the only one of the kid appealing resorts to do so
  • Is the only resort within easy walking distance of the Epcot monorail that directly serves Epcot, and
  • Is the only resort for which you can take the express monorail back from the Magic Kingdom, walking from where the monorail stops at the Transportation and Ticketing Center back to the hotel–and saving often 10 to 30 minutes.

Among the Walt Disney World value resorts with kid appeal–the All-Star Music, Movies and Sports Resorts, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Art of Animation ResortArt of Animation and Pop Century tie as convenience winners, but the choice is not so clear cut.

Collectively, transportation is less convenient at the All-Stars than at Pop Century and at Art of Animation.  What really sets Pop Century and Art of Animation apart is their access to Disney’s Skyliner gondola transportation to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

See this for more on convenience.

MORE ON WHERE TO STAY AT DISNEY WORLD

 

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258 comments

1 Kevin { 01.24.20 at 2:18 pm }

So I like this article. I agree that kid friendly and travel convenience are the most important issues. Here’s my question. With the skyliner going in how much does that elevate AoA and Pop Century? In your opinion is there any debate worth having between the Polynesian and the AoA suites?

Thanks for a great article.

2 Dave { 01.26.20 at 10:38 am }

Hi Kevin, a great point. I need to rewrite this page! Pop and AofA convenience is certainly up. CB convenience is up not just because of the Skyliner, but also because one village is gone, making buses there a little better.

If you ignore everything outside the room, a family suite at AofA beats any standard room at any deluxe.

3 richardbehen { 10.15.21 at 5:25 pm }

i would like to stay in the disney floridan hotel pass to epcot disney macic kingdom

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